FG Withdraws Forgery Charges against Saraki, Ekweremadu
There were indications on Thursday that the the Federal Government had withdrawn charges of criminal conspiracy against Senate President Bukola Saraki and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu at the Abuja High Court.
The Ministry of Justice has filed an application to amend the charges and also attached the amended charge.
In the new charge, only the former Clerk of the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa, and a former Deputy clerk, Ben Efeturi, are listed as the accused persons.
Whereas in the withdrawn charged, Saraki and Ekweremadu were charged alongside Maikasuwa, and Efeturi.
They were first arraigned before Justice Yusuf Halilu on June 10, 2016. They pleaded not guilty to the charges and we're granted bail.
A litigation officer at the Federal Ministry of Justice, Odudu Loveme deposed to an affidavit which was attached to the new charge.
Loveme averred that the prosecutor, Aliyu Umar, SAN, had on September 30, in the office of the Director of Public Prosecution told him that he had studied the case diary and “ had decided to amend the charge in the manner stated on the face of the motion paper”.
He stated that he had consequently, filed an amended charge.
He said: “That I depose to this affidavit in good faith believing same to be correct to the best of my knowledge and information and in accordance with the Oaths Act Cap 01 laws of the Federation of Nigeria."
On the face of the new charge, only Messrs. Maikasuwa and Efeturi would now face prosecution.
Count 1 of the new charge reads: "Salisu Maikasuwa and Benedict Efeturi, on or about the 9th day of June 2015 at the National Assembly Complex, Three Arms Zone, Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable court agreed to do an illegal act, to wit to make the Senate Standing Orders 2015 as amended without the authority of the 7th Senate of the Federal republic of Nigeria which act was committed by yourselves and that you thereby committed the offence of criminal conspiracy.”
They are also accused of fraudulently amending the 2015 Senate Standing Orders without the authority of the 7th Senate “ with intention that the Senators elect of the 8th Senate would believe that the said Senate Standing Orders 2015 ( as amended) was made by the authority of the 7th Senate of the Federal republic of Nigeria.”
They are accused of forging a document punishable under section 366 of the Penal Code Act ( Northern States) Federal Provisions Act, 1960, Cap 345, Laws of the Federation 1990 ( as amended).
The Nigerian Government also accused them of giving false information with the intention to mislead the public.
The court had on September 28 adjourned the matter to today October 7 for commencement of hearing.
Justifying the amedment, Umar said hat the sole issue for determination was “whether the court can permit the amendment of the charge in terms of the amended charge”.
According to him, the court has the powers to permit the amendment based on the provisions of Section 216 (1) of the Administration o Criminal Justice Act.
The Section stated that “ A court may permit an alteration or an amendment to a charge or framing of a new charge at any time before judgment is pronounced.”
He also quoted Section 216 (3) which states that “ Where a Defendant is arraigned for trial on an imperfect or erroneous charge ,the Court may permit or direct the framing of a new charge, or any amendment to, or the alteration of the original charge.